By JUSTIN JONES
Let me start this week with a fun fact about you and me: We are all social and, no matter how fervently some will deny it, we crave acceptance. Not by everyone, of course. I, for example, take no issue in being left out of fantasy football leagues (or terrorist cells).
Generally speaking, we want people to like us. Were this not the case, we’d make no sacrifices for our friends, and their charity towards us would dry up. Nor would we likely find partners, keep decent jobs, or dress the way we do. Even those who consider themselves “outsiders” living on the fringe aim to find solidarity: The fringe “community” wouldn’t exist were there no “community” with which to so label it.
That we are inherently social creatures is a good thing (it’s gotten our species this far). But some take the license too far—some feel that they MUST be liked by everyone. The cliché is to label these types as “People-Pleasers,” but I prefer to call them “douchebags.”
If you MUST be liked by everyone (and sometimes it’s hard not feeling that way), there are two possible routes: 1) You lose all personality traits—and ticks—that might be considered even mildly controversial (and thus affect a bland, lukewarm personality); or, 2) You become a disingenuous chameleon whose personality is lost behind all the masks you wear. Whatever route you chose, you are not being “you,” and so failure is the eventual end.
If you wish to be liked by everyone, you must dedicate the rest your life to it. You must never speak out of turn (unless present-company enjoys it). You must act with high regard to even those with whom you disagree (unless a challenge is what they’re after). You must place the considerations of others above your own, and give reverence to others’ wishes or expectations—even with trivialities (small things build with time, you know).
And in all of this, at every turn, you will be met with dilemmas, such as when you’re faced with two or more people who have wildly different expectation—situations from which you must always excuse yourself, or else risk being exposed as a social deceiver.XXX Yes, your goal must be to please everyone all the time, either through proactive forms of lying (“OMG—I love all the same things you love!”), or total complacency. And despite all your “best” efforts, you will still fail. There will be instances when you disappoint your “friends,” no matter how hard you try.
Even more devastating to People-Pleasers are those annoyingly “perceptive” people who see through your veil and dislike you for allowing your “self” to slip away into an endless existence of catering to the sensibilities of others.
A Public Service Announcement to People Pleasers: Nobody pays your bills! Be yourself if you want to find people who LOVE you, not pity you. (I’m Justin Jones, and I approve of this message.)
Justin Jones, 26, is a writer based in Minneapolis. In addition to his column “Love Jones,” Justin pens “Through
These Eyes,” a bi-weekly column for Lavender Magazine. He writes about things like being alive, being in love, and
drinking too much. Facebook.com/JustinJonesWriter.